Recommendations for HiFi Listening Room

Newbie here.  Wife and I are looking to turn our Great Room into a listening room.  It’s roughly 21’X’19 and has a cathedral ceiling that is 11’ tall at the wall and 20’ tall at the apex.  Spoke to a good hifi dealer in the area who made the following recommendations/proposal and I’m curious if this group may have any input for getting maximum bang for my buck.  Basically, with a budget around 35k (or thereabouts) would you buy something similar or are there any components you’d add or swap out?

Paradigm Persona 3F

McIntosh MA8950

Pro-Ject Xtension 9 w/ Ortofon Black Cartridge 

Sony ES DSD Music Server (this one concerns me a touch in that it appears to be an 8 yr old product line).

Thanks so much in advance for your collective expertise.  My wife isn’t going to let me drop money into this for another 15 years so I need to get it right the first time. 

If it matters, our musical taste is quite varied: classical, jazz, classic rock, alternative, hip hop.  My mother complained in my youth that if i had 10 bucks I would just buy a CD with it.  She is still right. 


You cannot go wrong with the Persona 3F. I would spend a couple of hundred getting a dedicated line to the room to make sure I got the foundation right. I can’t comment on the rest. Good luck although you are already lucky to have her. 

Look for speakers than amplifiers first. As you might have guessed, there’s a ton of them out there!  Knowing what kind of music you like and how loud do you listen will help in deciding on speakers.  Also some of that money set aside for treating your room.  It’s money we’ll spend!

All the best.


We are a persona dealer the 3f is a fantastic speaker you need a really good sub or they wont work well in that space also due to their extreme resolution they can be too bright in an untreated room, 


Also you can get a far better amp then a macintosh tonally nice with the personas


t+A is a german company that makes some of the world's best gear

also the krell k300i will outperform the macintosh 

also the 8-year-old Sony server is laughable you want a Roon based server


please reach out to our store and we can guide you 


Dave and Troy

Audio intellect NJ

paradigm krell T+A dealer

importer of high-end servers 



The first thing you need to do is listen to some systems to get a feel of your sonic preferences.

Purchase a copy of 'The Complete Guide to High End Audio' by Robert Harley.

Take your time.

Some statements of general guidance on a a path to take:

1)The room is a major component of your system. Having a dedicated one is a luxury. Think through system placement and room treatment. 2)Find a speaker that mates well with the room and your listening tastes. Listen to many. 3)Find the amplifier that mates well with the speakers, sonically and for power. 4)If employing both a digital and vinyl front end you might devote half of your budget on these components.  Sources must be on par with rest of system. 

I would be interested as to the questions the dealer asked you prior to making this recommendation. Was there a discussion about your room, sonic tastes? Did he have you listen to speakers having contrasting characters? 

Get the acoustics of the room right.

Buy gear used if possible.

Spend time getting your setup right.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come!

I like your goal and vision.

My suggestion is to listen to as many different types of systems as you can.  My rationale is there are different sonic characteristics and the goal is for you to find what you like the best.

For example, I have a friend who has Magnapan speakers - they are very different than my Sonus faber speakers in sound presentation including for vocals and different types of instruments.  

Based on my tastes - if I was to spend $35k here's what I'd likely do:

Speakers: Sonus faber Olympica Nova V (or Nova 3)

Electronics: Moon by Simaudio 390 Network player preamp with 330A amplifier

Rega P8 turntable with Ania

Quality cables- Transparent, Kimber, Nordost.

This is close to my current system except I have 2 M400 amplifiers.  

And for the record I moved from McIntosh to Moon - based on my personal preferences.  I loved my McIntosh gear.


+1 To everyone stating about investing in room treatments. A $20K system in a mindfully-treated and positioned room will sound exponentially better than a $35K system in an untreated room (even if positioned well) as the room shapes the sound between the speaker and your ear. 

I would also urge not only to listen to speakers first, but if possible with different amps, or ensure the amp can properly control said speakers. I have sound very expensive speakers sound terrible with the wrong application, and I’ve heard very cost effective speakers sound great with high quality amplification. 

@brewerslaw In what city/state are you located?

The paradigms are too small for a room that size. Something like the Klipsch Cornwalls will work nicely and are in about the same price range. They also require a lot less power. They will make the amp you have sound more powerful. I would still add subwoofers down the line. That is a larger room with a very tall ceiling so you are going to need sound absorption in a few places. You will need much less with the Cornwalls because they have controlled dispersion. The Paradigm are not controlled and will require more room treatment to sound good.

If you've never heard Magnepans, do so before you buy. They are worlds apart (and better, IMO) than boxes.

Go listen to some systems and bring your own music. I’d think Milwaukee must have a decent audio dealer, and it’s definitely worth a trip to Chicago and check out Holm Audio, etc. as there are several good audio dealers there. The more systems you hear the better you’ll be able to develop your own sense of what sounds to to you and for your particular tastes, and no one can tell you that except you so go out there and have fun listening! The more effort you put in upfront the more rewarding your results will be, especially of this is a system you’ll be living with for many years.

Speakers: Vandersteen Quatro CT with built-in subwoofers and tunable bass response

review Quatro CT

or Larsen Model 9 (wall of sound)

Larsen 9 review

Ayre AX-5/Twenty Integrated -- great match with Vandersteen (you can get it configured so that you don’t need the hi-pass crossovers)

AX-5 Twenty link

Or maybe the Aesthetix Mimas integrated (tube preamp stage), also a great match for the Vandersteens, and their internal DAC card is supposed to be excellent and a great value.They will also configure it so it doesn’t need the hi-pass crossovers. The also have an internal phono card option, and it's said to be good.

review Aesthetix Mimas

AND-- totally agree about spending $$ and effort to tune the sonics of the room.

Speakers: Vandersteen Quatro CT with built-in subwoofers and tunable bass response

review Quatro CT

or Triangle Signature Deltas

Triangle Signature Delta loudspeaker |


You can do a lot better than what the dealer suggested.

As per others, the first thing to do is to find two or three brands of speakers that you really like, which may require a bit of travel, but it will be worth it.

Once the speakers are set, you work back from there.


+2 for Vandersteen Quatro's.

+1 for Magnepan

Don't forget Sound Lab, if you like planar speakers.


I would like to add my 2 cents/piece of advice-

When I started out in the 80's, there were lots of dealers in the NY area and I could listen to lots of speakers/systems. I had to put all this on hold, as I was trying to make a career (yup, in Gardening/Horticulture- not the most lucrative of fields).

When I finally got some discretionary income, I remembered the Vandersteen's and how great they sounded (Mind you, this was the Model 2). I was pleased that he was still in business, and even came out with newer models.

I got a pair of 3a sigs, which were great, but lucked into a pair of Treo's. The difference was significant-more refined would be the best descriptor. If I had the more physical space to house them, I would get the Quatro's in a heart beat. But, I make do with the Treo's and Sub 3's.


So, long story short, I hope you can find time to audition as many speakers as possible so that you encounter a speaker that engages you-much like the Vandersteen's do for me. Once you get the speaker down, the remaining equipment (and, if necessary room correction) will be a breeze.


Instead of the McIntosh, I'd go with the Anthem STR Integrated and jump to the 5F Persona

I have to recommend extensive auditioning of systems from different high end dealers. You want to find the sound you are really emotionally drawn to. It is ok to audition really expensive equipment… to find “the sound” you guys like. Include tube equipment. I am sure the dealer you are talking with is recommending a good system from his knowledge of you and what he Carries. But, it would not hurt to spend time with other systems. See, what sounds right to you. Be careful of trebly systems, they can sound detailed… then over time you realize that is not good, that is harsh. Pay attention to your wife. She has better hearing… she will be drawn to more musical systems… pay attention to her.

My sister lives in Appleton.  Nice place to live and houses are affordable.

get rid of the paradigm persona that beryllium Tweeter and midrange are very bright and edgy, go listen to the monitor audio platinum 200 ll or 300 ll much better speaker, more natural sounding and way more three-dimensional, the sound  just wraps around and envelops the room and that MPD tweeter is much more natural sounding as well and three dimensional.


don't listen to audio Troy he's just pushing his stuff, the paradigm persona are very bright and edgy I guarantee you won't like them, if you have them in your town like I said go listen to the monitor audio platinum they're much more musical and natural sounding and way more three-dimensional than the paradigm persona will ever be.

and if you want to get rid of room problems get the Townshend podiums, they stop speaker vibrations down to three Hertz and also they get rid of the constant Earth vibration that's there all the time, when your speakers shake it smears the sound they're not cheap but they get rid of almost all room problems.

and for cables get OCC single Crystal wire it has been proven to be the best wire for audio for over 50 years now far superior to anything ofc at any price. but again don't cheapen out.


I hate to say this, but whatever audio equipment you bring into this large room, you will have to make some sizable acoustic treatment investment to get the best sound out of it. Make sure you set aside at least $5,000 to treat your room accordingly. Specially with the 20ft ceiling at apex, wow! Instead of talking to an audio dealer first, I would contact someone like Gik asap, give them a detail drawing of the room and ask for their advice. They will do that at no charge. As you can see in my house of stereo, acoustic treatment is a major part of the listening room.

+ 1 for a lot of what has been said already.

I’d start over.

especially the ProJect TT and Ortofon Cart.

I recently got rid of an RPM 10 Carbon. Build quality is totally unacceptable.

a good MC cart is the way to go. You need to add a good phono stage.

good luck and feel free to ask - my system is about $35 k all in - listed in detail in my profile. 


The two biggest factors are 1. The Room (you already have that). 2,. Speakers. Matching speakers to a room is not easy, after 50 years I have determined that the easiest way in a very difficult room, like mine, is to buy speakers you like the sound of either bookshelf or relatively small floor standers. Use 2 separate sub woofers, designs with built in subs may be great but separate give you far more options of placement, it is unlikely that the best location for your main stereo speakers will be exactly the same as for the subs. Then select an amplifier, 2 subs mean you don't need massive power, I use Vincent Pre / Power amps. However as the power amp is class A up to 10 watts I use a MiniDSP to cut base to the Audio Physic main speakers and direct all below 60Hz to the subs. This means my power amp never goes out of class A, and my speakers are extremely low stressed with bass. With room treatment I, in a small room have lots, however it still didn't solve the problems, the MiniDSP did. Cathedral ceilings are probably a bonus, they are far enough away from the source to present no timing issues. If the floor is carpeted then furnishings will deal with the rest. Enjoy. 

Find another dealer close by , listen to different brands.   You are spending a lot of $$$ ,  poor choices are costly.   Listen to a few different speakers and systems and put 2 subs in the budget to compensate for the room size.

It's OK to buy brand X at one dealer and brand Y at another.    No need for concessions with your budget .

If you’re locked in for 15 years, you are very wise to get advice first.

I say: audition, audition, and audition. As others have mentioned, planar speakers are qualitatively different. I am a devoted planar man: dedicated sound room uses 4 Quad ESL’s and 2 Magneplanar woofer panels, home theatre uses 1 Quad ESL (centre) and 8 Magneplanar panels.

Both Quads and Magneplanars sing with Bryston amplification..With their 20 year (sic) warrantee, the used ones command a good price, but they are available and you could save money there. I would hold out for the SST series or newer.

Another place to save money is cables. I would buy cables for a maximum of $50 a pair to start with. Then, if you feel like upgrading cables, make any upgrade prove itself in your system before you commit to buy. Cables are by far the least bang for buck. IMO.

+1 for a dedicated power circuit or two.

Good luck !!!!

Klipsch Hertiage Series speakers paired with a set of subs. You can’t go wrong with that setup especially with the variety of music you guys listen to. 

I have a similar room although a bit smaller than yours. I like the Vandersteen & Ayre recommendation. What you need to do is fill that space. I think the Legacy Audio Focus SE would be a good choice. No sub required. Pair them with a good amp and you will be delighted. Heck, drive to Springfield and visit the factory. I used to live just outside of Appleton for a while. It’s a nice place.

Very little info about the room. What’s on the floor? What are the details of the short sides (doors/openings/windows etc)...same for the long sides?

First audio component I would buy is a big 100% wool rug resting on a heavy felt liner. My rug costs more than any one of my components. Money well spent. Because the room matters more than the equipment. Many will disagree. But you’re already spending good money on decent long as they’re well matched, the room is the key to blissfully reproduced audio.

The cartridge I currently run costs more than the turntable I had in the old house. And my current system is 6x more than my old system. I had a dedicated room for audio in the old place...nothing but air between the speakers on the short wall and rack on the side wall.

My current system sounds great...but the old system in a dedicated room edges it out.

Focusing on the room will get you further than focusing on components. Room first...then components. Or, like many of us, you’ll be endlessly chasing the subtleties and shades of component character.

What’s that you say? This component has a better signal-to-noise ratio and lower distortion than that one? Well an average silent room is still about 17-20 db of just ate up all that difference.

Ever heard the saying a man is the room he’s in?

Well, for sure, a system is the room it’s in.

Thank you all for the responses and suggestions.  It appears I have a few hifi dealers in the area so I should be able to easily test Legacy Audio, KEF, B&W, Golden Ear, Focal, MartinLogan and a few others besides the Personas that i liked.

If anyone has opinions about the above options, I’d love to hear them.  Particularly, if a particular line appears well suited for my needs (and wildly varied music taste) and/or suggestions on pairing an amp. I can say that my wife is going to be more excited about the Legacy Audio aesthetics than the Personas (and B&W would need to sound perfect for her to allow the look of them) but ultimately it’ll come down to performance for us both. 

A few more details about the room: it has wood floors that are fairly covered with several rugs and an absolutely gigantic and thick fabric couch (seats 10) that takes up a comical amount of space.  There are 9 large windows (about 30 inches wide and 8+ feet tall) spaced around 3 of the walls and a fireplace.  The entryway from the kitchen is about 7 ft wide and there is a small balcony on the top floor overlooking the room above the entryway.  Room is slightly asymmetrical and one corner more of a fifth wall about 5 ft wide.  It’s easily the coolest room of the house but we never have a reason to sit in it so we thought a great 2 channel sound system would prompt us to use it. I sent info to Gik this evening so thanks for that suggestion as well.

This group is a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate your time immensely!

Thanks for the updated details on the room and it is a good idea to consult with Gik. Are there drapes for the windows? It is possible with that ceiling height and configuration that it will need some treatment as well as the walls. Anyway, as Blisshifi said, start with getting the room right and work on from there. It is better to sort the room out before auditioning equipment. For example, in an untreated room, current B&W's will likely sound too bright.

The other observation I would make is to not let the comically large couch dictate your listening position. There's a temptation in a large room to want to use the space and to position speakers too far apart and to listen from too far away.

Looks like the dealers hands are already trying to get into your pocket. Oddiofyl gives great advice. You really should look around and try different brands, systems. I like Vandersteen Quatro CT, Ayre and Magnepan as brands mentioned to listen to. Also try open baffle and Horn speakers (Klipsch and Volti come to mind). With horns you don’t have to spend tons of $$ on amp power. A quality mid current/watt amp can fill a room with high efficiency speakers. Good luck.

Be cautious  of  any Canadian  made speaker.  Most of them are made as tested in the nation research  ce ters anicocic chamber they sound good if you build your room into  a chamber as well if not you have a ear bleeding bright system that sounds awful. The trashcan kid tweeters they put in most of them along with tubby bass. Remember  when you look at speakers if it says made in Canada  it's just another cheap Canadian  speaker. Paradigm may have got better but I had there top speaker years ago and that was the start of my first real system. I still likely  have blood stain on the floor from the blood that poured our of my ears. I have not bother to listen to a pair again ad I don't even need to hear a pair again. Remember  another of people build speakers but there are very few good ones. Also don't forget horn speakers sound good at ballparks usually  bright a d  or enough  room. Volume  for everything  to integrate  well between  the drivers. You do have a large volume  room but I would hesitate  on a horn speaker as well.  On wire if you are a bit handy my recommendation  for wire would be furutech there products  are very good performers and cheap at the level the play at.



Look at the top and second from the top wires in each category.  

Always refreshing to see some members who truly appreciate the value of the room first before the audio equipment. It's like a house, without a solid foundation all you got is a house of cards. Lots of wasted effort and money. Smart of the OP to have paid attention and contacted GIK. Glad I could help.

Exciting process! I began this audio journey in earnest late 2019. Lots of points already stated that I would concur, Robert Hurley's book is a must. I still refer to it from time to time. 

1. Enjoy the learning. This isn't a "one and done" thing.

2. Set expectations. I think it's unrealistic to get it right the first time. 

3. I set a budget. Then doubled it. Then tripled it. And it hasn't stopped. 

4. Great thing if you have a good local dealer but remember, they only sell what they've got. A universe of information and tech awaits. And BTW, if said local brick and mortar store won't let you demo things, run away. As others have said, if possible, hearing in your own room is important. 

5. Re. equip, I've not heard your speakers but in similar price universe, Revel F328Be (a pair can often be found for $10k) might do better and eliminate the need for a sub. For pure stereo / audio, I don't want a sub but arguments can be made either way. Sub placement, matching, timing are not "plug and play." I have the McIntosh MA325, significantly less than the one you're looking at and it is more than sufficient and has an additional set of balanced XLR connections if memory serves. 

6. Someone mentioned a dedicated power line. I heard this over and over and finally did it. $300 by a local electrician and it was the best single addition to my system. Period. I was stunned at the result. 

7. Blue Jean cables are very affordable and use a cold ultrasonic weld. 99.9% of cables (and I have some very expensive audioquests) are simply set screwed into twisted wire at the termination (banana, spade...). For a few hundred bucks, Blue Jean Cables will out match imo. Check them out online. 

8. Vinyl. If you already have a collection, great. Bear in mind, building LPs today is different. I've been astonished how well some equipment can render CDs and overall pretty happy with TIDAL and occasionally Spotify. The beauty of playlists is you can take music wherever you go. IF (big IF and I may earn the heretic label) you can wait on the turntable, look into streamers and a great CD player. I'm astonished with A-B tests with any source and my Quad Artera Play+ (around $2K) with balanced XLR to the McIntosh. Mind blowing. 

9. Spend some time on YouTube. Hans  Beekhuyzen can be a bit deep for most but I appreciate his reviews. John Darko is interesting and I'd say more "current" with tech than older audiophiles. Steve Guttenberg is a long timer, he rarely says anything negative about equipment, however, but his playlist might be helpful. "The Cheap Audioman" is, well, cheap. Full disclosure, I fast forward his intros and a lot of his stuff but he's not wrong about the seduction of high price tags may not mean that major of an improvement. You may find others with whom you connect. If you become a Patreon ($5.00 - 10.00 a month) to folks you like, they can be a bit more helpful - a-hem - than forums. I find forums a bit, well, lets say, the folks on forums are interesting. 

As I began, enjoy the process. Don't be in a rush to get everything. Learn. Laugh. Ask questions. And as Hans ends all his YouTube videos, "and whatever you do, enjoy the music."

Happy hunting. 

Forgive me, one more suggestion. Go XLR balanced cables for every component. Game changer. 

Your room size is not going to be the problem. Quoting John Atkinson (Stereophile)- "Big room, small problems".

Take your time and enjoy the journey.

Post removed 

I wanted to "just swap my speakers" 2 years ago. I ended up with a new (used) amp and turntable, new cables - kept the CD player (but stopped listening to CDs) , to improve/accomplish perfect synergy. I'd say i am further from it then when I started and it is normal.

I was convinced that it was all about the speakers. I had to spend the most on speakers and I had to find the best sounding speakers for the money (or twice the money) I had. 

I would stay away from advice of a specific brand, I would start with cultures, regions and countries. Unless you buy a "Ford" you will find that every boutique shop will have a specific DNA and the results will vary accordingly as they may or may not match you visual and technical and sound requirements. 

Scandinavian, British, Italian, Swiss-German, US-Canadian, all very unique and fantastic choices and camps . 

I would say: spend half your time reading up on it, and youtube videos, and the other half listening. This forum was gigantically helpful for my turntable and speaker stands and a complete beehive and clusterf%k for speakers. 

To paraphrase a quote from a great movie: figure out your priorities and then question and validate them. It will be a fun journey.

Your room size and listening preferences will determine how much power you will need, your budget will determine what brands you can buy and you should listen to/consider the amp and speaker as one choice and the source independent from them. (Or I could be totally wrong about this, and everything I wrote!) :) 




I also like wildly different music types and after years of attending the symphony and other acoustic venues found that Sonus Faber speakers best reproduced natural - musical sound, improved all genera (as opposed to making one genera sound better at the expense of others), and when coupled with good tubed equipment (Audio Research) have me (and my female partner of 37 years) happier than ever (understatement… first time she truely loves the sound).

Among brands that are more commonly found out there in stores, definitely try to listen to Vandersteen and Sonus Faber.  But just because a brand is stocked by a bunch of stores (B&W, Focal, Paradigm, etc.) don't assume that it's best bang for the buck, or the best-sounded speaker for your application.

For starters, personally, I would lose the McIntosh, because apparently from what I've learned on this site they have what we call a house sound, meaning that while it's extremely high fidelity it's different from all the rest. What I was told is to make sure it's your cup of tea because it'll be expensive to replace it if you don't.

Especially, as far as speakers go, but probably for all the other components as well, you'll get way more of a bang for your buck buying used gear, as in, on this site and I have no affiliation except for being a very satisfied user who's scored a few amazing deals on even more amazing equipment. And, dude, the biggest piece of advice I can give you, esp since you said your kind of (exceptionally) cool wife isn't gonna allow you to sink any more bucks into this little foray for a long time ... is to do it right the first time. It's called upgradeitis and it's expensive as hell. As long as you spend your money well I'm here to tell you it won't be a thing.

This forum is full of people chasing the dream. I had but a system years ago when I was married to the mother of my children and I was more careful about my choices when I decided to build another system just a few years ago.

It's terribly important to have a high degree of synergy b/w your different components. If you do this part well, I can pretty much assure you you'l never want to upgrade b/c when you have good synergy you won't need or want to change anything. 

I'm going to personally recommend my speakers b/c from what you've described, what we call the WAF, which stands for wife approval factor is pretty important since you guys are doing this together and I'm sure you want to please her.

One of the reasons I could justify spending as much on my speakers as I did is because they're gorgeous. To prove my point above about used gear, I'm the third owner of my speakers. I bought them from an opera singer down in Houston TX. I'm not sure what he paid for them but the original owner paid $11,000. Frequently, there will be two or three pair listed on this very sight for $5000. I got them for a little over 3K and they're in awesome condition. Even if you get a pair for between five and seven grand, look how much you save buying used. 

I've learned a lot of valuable stuff from screwing off spending time following threads on this site, ha ha ha, and one of the things that changed the sound I was getting is setting the speakers out into the room a little bit, like two or three feet from the wall they're up against. It has to do with room acoustics, and from the dimensions of the room you described you have the space to fill it with great sound. The easiest way to think about it until you understand room acoustics is that they need room to breathe. Especially if they're going to sit out in the room you want them to not look like a big box, to my way of thinking, to score high on what we call the WAF, which stands for wife approval factor, ha ha ha. It's actually real.

If you give these speakers room to breathe, you will be pleased with the sound. And they have two little knobs on the back so you can fine tune the bass response. When you get that right, if you have the right electronics feeding the system you'll literally be amazed because in most cases it'll literally seem like the various musicians are standing or sitting in the same room with you. The correct timbre is what you're after. Soundstaging and imaging is what I'm talking about and these speakers do it extremely well.

As far as electronics goes, you'll get lots of different opinions about what you should or shouldn't do and what you'll wind up choosing has everything in the world to do with what you'll be using the system for or more specifically, what you'll want it to do.

If you want it to do more than two channel audio it changes the game significantly.

You'll probably be able to figure it out with a certain degree of clarity by the bottom of the thread if you give these guys the right information. It was smart starting this thread! The speakers I'm referring to is the Martin Logan, Summit. I guess they have to sort of fit in your decor to look as gorgeous as they do in my place, but I live on the top floor of a high rise in an urban environment and I tend to prefer a more modern look so they're like wow. 

I just checked this site and there's only one pair listed and it says no box, which means local pick up. 

Oh, one more thing. I can imagine the things that'll be said about power conditioning and cables. There are naysayers, trust me. And they'll come out of the cracks on a thread like this. But when you have components that's capable of a high degree of resolution you will find that both of these things are what will male the difference b/w good sound and really good sound. OK, lemme have it Jason Bourne, haha ha ha.

By the way, there's two different pairs of the next model up from my speaker, called the Summit X and the reviews I read before I bought mine said that it performs even better than mine. For the budget you have, if you can justify spending more than 5K on your speakers it would actually be worth it to go for it. But I can tell you from my own experience that the Summit will give you what you're after in spades. Can't wait to hear what you choose. Have fun!

What’s up with women and B&W speakers ! My daughter thinks the 800 series look like trash cans!😂😂😂

listened to personas along with many others (b&w, focal, dali, monitor, etc) don't let the trolls on here sway you.  they make great speakers (they along with focal were the best to me), but at the end of the day listen to what you can and buy what you like

As others have recommended, start with speakers and audition as many as you can -- ideally a few at a time at each dealer so you can get a sense of what you like.  Your room will play a big part in how they sound so buy from someone that will let you audition at home.

Re: Paradigms -- you don't necessarily have to get Personas. The new Founders series has the 120h which has built-in powered subs and bass room correction which can help tune to the room.  They also won't be as bright as the Personas.  That said, there are many other speakers that have a completely different sound signature that you may like better.  Vandersteen Quattros are a great recommendation for any room but so are speakers from Dynamikks. Couldn't be more different, but both are incredible.  

Amplification -- way too many choices here but you're looking for something that goes well with the speakers that you choose.  Mcintosh is great and if you want something where guests come over, recognize it, and go "wow" -- then Mcintosh is the only brand that others will know and do that with.  Also has great resale. For great sound at a better cost, though, there are lots of options that are better.  Once you dial in on the speaker that you like, try tubes vs solid state (A vs A/B vs D) to see what you like best.

Digital Source -- I'm a fan of Roon with a streamer.  Great user interface.  That means getting a Roon server on your home network and a streamer near your amplifier.  Alternatively, get an Aurender or Lumin or similar and just stream directly from the various streaming services.  For DAC, I like Denafrips but there's also Holo Audio and many others to try in your target budget.

Vinyl Source -- have no idea as I left vinyl behind quite a while ago. (I still regret it a bit but no going back now)

Room treatment -- you have rugs, a big heavy couch, and cathedral ceilings -- you're already in great shape.  Professional room treatment will definitely help optimize the room but you have to balance that with what you want the room to look like.  I have a dedicated listening room in the basement with low ceilings -- so I need a lot of room treatment.  You may not.  I'd get the system in the room, get it where it looks and sounds the best and then consider room treatment.  If you're really concerned about the room and how it plays with your equipment, the other path would be to get a preamp that has built-in DIRAC or similar or do room correction through Roon for your digital source.

Happy shopping.  

Tons of opinions and many of them really good !  Doing the GIK room stuff is a good start.  A really good book, easy to read and understand is "Get Better Sound" by Jim Smith.  Using this book and some rather inexpensive room treatments I was able to get my listening-room sound great.  

For a room that size, horn-loaded speaker systems that are efficient may be the way to go as they don't require hefty power amplification for good output and man sound really good.  Volti makes a speaker called the Razz that would probably serve you very well.  It's very dynamic both macro and micro and could be very satisfying for the array of music that you listen to.  There are a number of really good Class-A amplifiers that would work very well with those speakers.  The Pass-Labs XA-25 is highly regarded and would provide plenty of power for them.  And Pass-Labs makes the XP-12 or XP-22 preamps that are really great sounding as well.  Those Pass-Labs products all have terrific reviews too.  As for source equipment, if you must have vinyl, well then go for it.  However, I have gone completely digital and don't even miss my vinyl anymore.  Innuos makes a number of great music-servers and a BorderPatrol DAC will give your great digital reproduction with a very analog-like sound.  All of the stuff I mentioned above would be well within your budget.  In any event, enjoy your audio journey !